According to a study, great white sharks prefer to live near the coast when they are young. They gathered in shallow areas to form nurseries – possibly to better avoid predators, reports a research team in the journal “Frontiers in Marine Science”. Water between 20 and 22 degrees is preferred. The results are important for the protection of great white sharks – and for protecting the public from critical encounters with the animals.

In some species, sharks hatch from laid eggs; in other species, such as the great white shark, the offspring hatched from the eggs in the womb are born alive. After birth, sharks are not looked after by their mother, but are left to fend for themselves. In the case of great white sharks, the young animals form loose groups of up to 40 animals in certain parts of the coast, as the researchers write.

The team led by Emily Spurgeon and Christopher Lowe from California State University in Long Beach examined a population off Padaro Beach near Santa Barbara in California. 22 young sharks between one and six years old were fitted with transmitters in 2020 and 2021 that provided data on position, water pressure and temperature. The tagged animals were 1.55 to 2.89 meters long.

More favorable temperatures and protection from predators

When fully grown, a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) can be a good six meters long and up to 70 years old. Such specimens are mainly found on the open sea. Only orcas – and humans – can still pose a threat to them.

Further analyzes will now show why young white sharks prefer to gather near the coast. One reason is probably the temperatures there, which are more favorable for growth. According to the team, other reasons could be that more suitable prey can be found near the coast and that shallow water offers better protection from larger predators.